A Young Adult Survivor Story: 15 Years in the Making

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A Young Adult Survivor Story: 15 Years in the Making

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Adolescent Young Adults face unique challenges when dealing with cancer diagnoses and 72,000 are diagnosed each year: http://bit.ly/1SVadWG
Monday, April 18, 2016 - 1:15pm

CAMPAIGN: LIVESTRONG Helping Individuals

CONTENT: Blog

Nearly 72,000 young adults, ages 15-39, are diagnosed with cancer every year. April is the time when we highlight the unique challenges that young adult cancer survivors face like school, jobs, dating, getting married and having children. Over the years, LIVESTRONG has interviewed thousands of cancer survivors. Many of those survivors were filmed for our website including a woman named Kim Bergeron. Kim applied to become a LIVESTRONGLeader this year and we jumped at the chance to share her survivor story again 15 years in the making.

LIVESTRONG:
We interviewed you in the early 2000’s just after your second year of survivorship. You mentioned how much your priorities had changed because of cancer. 15 years later, how has being a young adult cancer survivor impacted how you look at life?

Kim:
After my successful cancer battle I thought I still needed to be that fierce, go-getter, anxiety driven executive. I immediately went back to work. After two years I realized I wasn’t completely there for my boys and was not fulfilled in my work so I made changes. I have removed a lot of anxiety from my life. I have a much more appreciative outlook on life and I am more reflective and focused on things that matter in my life. I enjoy looking at the birds, sky, and flowers – all things I really didn’t appreciate before cancer. I have also given up that ‘grit’ from work and have channeled it towards living a more fulfilled way. I still have tenacity and drive but it’s on a completely different level. It’s enjoyable, fun and giving back to others who are in their fight against cancer today.

LIVESTRONG:
Many young adult survivors are just starting out in life with career and children. What advice would you give to a young person facing cancer and concerned about their future income earning potential?

Kim:
My advice is to live your life as you have always done. Don’t let cancer define you. If you love your job, keep working there. If not, find one that fulfills you. I don’t think that cancer should be given that much power over one’s focus, dreams and goals.

LIVESTRONG:
Sometimes cancer survivors feel the urge to give back to others after treatment. How have you given back to the cause?

Kim:
I have to say that after my treatment and survival, I tried to volunteer for the cancer cause but it was just too fresh for me and I had to take a bit more time to make sure I was strong enough to handle it. I did volunteer for LIVESTRONG for a very short time operationally helping preparation for an event but I had so much focus on work and my babies I had to put it on hold.

Over the years my strength was back and passion to fight this fight, for all, grew immensely. I have been a cancer advocate for many friends, family, colleagues and their families from counseling, motivation, fight coaching, helping with second opinions, research and providing questions for patients to ask their doctor. – I have a story that is really a true miracle. In my prior video I said that I did not ask how long I had to live, it was irrelevant to me. However, five or so years later my sister accidentally told me that my family was told I had less than one year to live. If I have one mission to provide to others it is to not let any doctor or anyone to tell you how long you have to live. It’s not relevant – they don’t know. There is only one ‘being’ that knows when it’s your time.

Years later I am involved in volunteering for Dell Children’s Medical Center, American Cancer Society, Super Hero Kids, International Cancer Advocacy Network, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and most recently the LIVESTRONG Leader program.

I am also in the process of starting a non-profit for those fighting cancer and survivors. It is called Concierge Cancer Center. I will be giving back in a way that I handled my care. We will be offering yoga, oncology massage therapy, acupuncture, nutrition and more. The intention is to offer the services in one ‘haven’ so patients don’t go all over town getting one service here and one there, etc. at no charge.

Keywords: Health & Healthcare | Cancer | Kim Bergeron | LIVESTRONG | LIVESTRONG Leader | Positive Change | Social Impact & Volunteering | Youth Action | adolescent young adult cancer

CAMPAIGN: LIVESTRONG Helping Individuals

CONTENT: Blog

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